April is Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Awareness Month. As we continue to deal
with COVID-19 in our community, we are sharing a guest blog by Mary Richardson, PT, Ann Brexa, OT, and Molli Karen, SLP
of BCH Outpatient Rehabilitation to help those affected by Parkinson’s
create a plan during this time.
April is Parkinson’s disease (PD) awareness month and this year’s theme is
#Plan4 PD. PD is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects over 1 million
Americans. Individuals with this disease can maintain a productive quality
of life when using their resources, staying active and connecting within
It is important to remember that living with PD requires individuals to
have a plan in place to live well with this diagnosis. This might include
any of the following tasks:
- Develop a good understanding of your symptoms and how to manage them.
- Meet others that have PD in a support group setting to discuss symptoms
or learn more about the disease and research opportunities.
- Scheduling to attend regular exercise classes to move better and improve
- Participate in a singing group to improve voice and communication.
- Following up with your primary care physician, neurologist, movement specialist
or therapy rehab team.
Parkinson’s Disease and COVID-19
What happens to that plan when a global pandemic leaves you socially isolated
at home? First, following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) to limit social interactions, practice good
hand hygiene, know the symptoms of COVID-19, wear a cloth face-covering
in public settings and avoiding all non-essential travel is the right
thing to do. This is particularly important if you live with a chronic
disease and if you are an older adult.
During this time, you may feel frustrated, scared and lonely. But remember,
you are not alone. Indeed, most of your best-laid plans have changed and
you may feel your symptoms are more intense because of the stress and
lack of routine. Now more than ever, you need a plan, not only for this
time of social isolation but also for the future when we are again free
to move about the community.
Suggestions from BCH Outpatient Rehabilitation
Here are a few suggestions from the
BCH outpatient rehabilitation team to help during this time.
Functional Daily Activity:
Just because we are not able to go out into the community, it is important
to maintain an active daily routine.
- Remember the basics: consistent sleep schedule, good nutrition, exercise
- Manage your energy levels by taking rest breaks throughout the day.
- Find alternative activities that keep your body and brain engaged and limit
- Clean out and declutter your living space as this will improve home safety
and decrease distractions.
- Learn to cook and/or try new recipes. The internet is a great resource
to find new healthy recipes.
- Plant a simple indoor garden or grow starter seeds.
- Learn a basic dance step and practice it daily. Keep it simple and safe.
- If you volunteer, contact the organization to see how you can help from home.
- Take walks with family, enjoy nature sights and sound, or listen to music
to help set your pace. Set goals to walk farther, more quickly, or while
looking around. Try using trekking poles to improve stride length or arm swing.
- Try something new by looking at various video platforms that provide exercises
specific to PD. (i.e. yoga, Tai chi, stretching and strengthening). Remember
to be safe when balancing in your home and always monitor for pain or
- Work in the yard cleaning up for Spring.
- Dig out some of your old exercises from physical therapy and dust off that
stationary bike or treadmill for days when the weather isn’t conducive
to outdoor activity.
- Have a friend or family member check in daily to see how you are doing
with your exercise routine.
- If you cannot physically see friends or family, utilize technology as a
source to connect with people (i.e. FaceTime, Zoom, or Facebook video calling).
- Verbal communication is important for everyone’s physical and emotional
health, but it is especially important for individuals with PD to continue
using their communication skills for optimal health.
- Make phone calls daily to friends or loved ones to stay connected if technology
is not available.
- Complete crossword puzzles, word searches, card games, etc. to give your
brain some exercise.
- Check all your medications. Take inventory of all medications and reorder
any that are running low.
- Write your medication list down. Write or print a list of all your medications
(not just PD medications). Include medication name, strength, times taken,
- Have a "medical alert card" indicating you have PD available
and keep it with you always.
Additional Resource Links:
Parkinson's Foundation Coronavirus Tips
Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's
Parkinson Association of the Rockies
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research